Archive | January 2012

winter sleepy musings post

Oh. The weather has taken a turn for the cold. For all my love of Northern Exposure and wanting to travel to Alaska, the cold makes me just want to hibernate. I want to be like strivingcynic cat and find a nice, happy sunbeam to lie in and not move for a few hours.

he's found his sunbeam

Actually, we’ve had some pretty warm days lately, but it’s gotten a little colder, which makes me take stock of my “what will protect me from the cold” winter weather gear. This week has seen me wearing a layer of long underwear under my clothes (genius), double socks to bed (okay, I’ve been doing that all along), and wristlets (I think that’s what they’re called…fingerless gloves that cover the entire wrist). I’ve worn my warm faux fur lined boots to work (I’ve changed into my work shoes at the office).

And then there’s the tea. I always love tea, but once the weather gets colder I basically keep drinking it all day. I also bring a water bottle that I intend to drink all day too, but I end up never touching it (and to be fair, the tea is decaf).

My habits change in the winter. I eat less ice cream (I still eat it though). I still go for desserts, but I go more for cake, cookies, chocolate. I have almost no interest in getting fresh air; the winter blahs set in.

Good thing there are things that put a smile on my face. Seeing that there’s a little more light in the sky in the morning and evening, hot chocolate, warm blankets, and of course, this guy:

still there!

What gets you through the cold, winter days? When do you break out the winter gear and what are your favorites?

the movies I’ve seen. or want to see. or not.

I had been relatively happy with my movie watching in the last year…up 80 million percent from a few years ago. So, I was happy to have a look at Entertainment Weekly’s list of 25 Movies You Need to See Before Oscar Night (from their January 13, 2012 issue…I couldn’t find this on the EW site as I was writing, but others have put it up [and done similar post to mine…so if you want to see it, click this).

What I’ve seen from the list

1. Midnight in Paris. Didn’t really do much for me. I thought Owen Wilson’s character was dippy and I got annoyed at how the women were either horrible or pure male fantasy.

2. Moneyball. This one was good. I don’t think I’d give it a major Oscar, but maybe that’s because I’m not a big sports person.

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I was a lot more impressed with this than I expected to be, especially with Rooney Mara. Aside from the “hard to believe that’s the same girl from The Social Network, you can see what challenges there are in playing Lisbeth and I think she was pretty brave to take them on.

4. Bridesmaids. Loved it in the movies, loved it on my home tv. Melissa McCarthy should have been nominated for a Golden Globe but wasn’t. Hopefully the Academy will get it right.

5. The Descendants. I felt this movie was uneven for me. There were times when I was really engaged in the story. Other times I found myself having to concentrate to stay involved. All the same, I see why George Clooney and Shailene Woodley would get Oscar buzz for their performances.

And believe it or not, of the 25 must see before Oscar movies, for all my movie watching this year, that’s all I’ve seen.

So, what do I want to see on that’s on the list.

1. The Artist. I suspect I will have seen this before Oscar night.

2. War Horse. I’m not seeing it in the theaters because I know I’ll cry. I used to well up seeing commercials for the play with the puppet horses, and I well up when I see the movie trailer too.

3. The Help. I have the book but haven’t read it yet. I like to read the book before seeing the movie, but I won’t insist on it.

4. Beginners. This one just sounds like an interesting movie.

5. Young Adult. The premise of this movie really appeals to me. We might manage to see this one in the theater.

So, what about the rest? I’m not “against” seeing any of them, but they for whatever reason, don’t really draw my interest. So, I’ll go ahead and name three that don’t hold any appeal for me.

1. The Tree of Life. I suspect I’ll end up seeing this one day on someone else’s instigation. But based on what I’ve read, I suspect I might find this long, boring, pretentious, and huh? (Shame on me for knocking it without seeing it…but that’s my reaction).

2. J. Edgar. I trust the lackluster reviews on this one…and when I saw a preview, I thought Leo just looked kind of weird in his aging makeup…I don’t know if I’d ever move past that (although I liked The Aviator so it must have worked for me then).

3. We Need to Talk About Kevin. I don’t mind heavy and depressing books…but I guess I like a dose of happy escapism in my movies.

Have you seen any of the same movies I’ve seen and what did you think? What about the other movies I’ve mentioned?

top ten authors I wish would write another book

Once again, it’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Thanks to them for their wonderful meme and themes.

This week’s ten was more challenging for me. If I think of all the authors I enjoy from times gone by, it’s not too difficult. When it comes to more recent authors it gets a little tricky. The fact is, most of the people who are on my list are dead, many of them for more than 100 years. Most authors I like who are among the living come out with books fairly frequently. Also, maybe because I have a book backlog, I’m not so caught up with most of my authors that I have the *right* to want them to write more!

Anyway. I came up with seven

First thing are my great but long dead authors who I wish there were more books from.

1. Jane Austen. Because she’s great and I do wonder what she would make of her “industry” if she were around today (no doubt, she’d be savvy whatever her feelings were).

2. Charles Dickens. I haven’t even read all his work (and once you move past novel length books there’s still a lot out there). All the same, I’d like to know there were more books out there.

3. Wilkie Collins. I haven’t read a lot of him either, but since he was a detective story pioneer, I’d love to see what he’d do with the genre as it exists now.

The next two didn’t die so long ago, but they wrote very few books.

4. Stieg Larsson. I’m reading The Girl Who Played with Fire and still have The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest to go, but there’s something about picking up an author knowing they only wrote a few books. If you like them, you know it’s going to hurt when you get to the end. I have a number of quibbles and problems with these books, but, they’re page turners.

5. Kate Ross. Sigh. From what I’ve picked up about Ross, she was a lawyer who wrote four Regency-era set mysteries featuring a bon vivant named Julian Kestrel. I don’t think she ever got really famous, but she developed a following and then died of cancer in her early 40s in the 1990s. When I first picked up her books, they were intriguing, but the author information told the story and I knew going in that there were only four mysteries and then it was done. A shame for many reasons. I have read the first three Cut to the Quick, A Broken Vessel, and Whom the Gods Love, and have had the fourth, The Devil in Music sitting on my shelves for the better part of 10 years. I keep promising myself I’ll read it if I achieve something I really want, but when I achieve it, I reset the bar. For whatever reason, I don’t want to be done with Ross.

And, authors who are writing, but if I could tell them what to write in a future book, here’s what I’d say.

6. He’s been writing, but I wish Peter Høeg would write another book featuring Smilla Jaspersen. Smilla’s Sense of Snow captivated me when I read it in the mid-1990s. And I think Lisbeth Salander owes a lot to Smilla (in fact, I wonder about some of the similarities sometimes), a small, tough, outsider (in Scandinavia) who will stop at nothing to discover the truth.

7. Again, I’m a little behind (haven’t read Smokin’ Seventeen or Explosive Eighteen so maybe something has happened on this front), but as much as I love Stephanie Plum (and I grew up in Hamilton, NJ)  I wish there were some forward movement and she wasn’t still so conflicted about which boy she wants to be with. So I wish Janet Evanovich would resolve that part of the plot, at least for a little while.

And that’s it. This week my top ten is a seven!

Update: I accidentally set this to post on Monday (lost track of my days…), so it’s dated Jan. 9th and posted simultaneously with the previous post, which was meant to be the only post for the 9th! Oops!

Who would you like to see another book from? Or which author would you like to “nudge”? If you have a list of your own, link away!

the random post

It’s time to do the blog [lazy] standard of random things about me. To be fair, I haven’t done this one before (although I guess every post has the potential to reveal something random and I’m sure that if this is the first time, it won’t be the last).

By the way, I’m linking this to Stephanie at Love Life Project’s Blog Cliches post because I think the randomness post fits the category….but so what?

Here goes.

1. I have never been to any Disney related theme park. And in case you forgot (or didn’t know), I’m 40, so there’s been plenty of time for me to have gone to one. It’s on my “one of these days” list.

2. I’ve had my ears pierced three times. I had them done when I was 7 or 8, but got a nasty infection (I think the backing actually somehow ended up inside my earlobe. Yep. Ick.) I got them redone when I was 10. I had a second hole put in my left ear when I was 18, but it’s now closed up. So it only looks like they’ve been pierced once.

3. Confession. I realized the backing in lobe issue when I was in my third grade classroom. I went into the classroom bathroom to have a look, but the mirror was at adult height. I stood on the toilet seat (no lid) to try to see my ear. Later that day the teacher yelled at us because there were “footprints on the toilet seat.” I did not ‘fess up.

4. If I’m in a movie theater or watching a movie with others and it makes me want to cry, I will stab my hand with my fingernail in the hopes that the pain will distract me so I won’t start crying. It doesn’t always work.

5. Along with my love for Gilmore Girls, I love the show Northern Exposure and have the entire series on DVD. In fact, because of NX for a long time, my plan was to celebrate turning 40 by going to Alaska. Although I didn’t end up going there this year, I definitely want to go in the not-too-distant future.

6. When I lived in my apartment I actually had a tv in the living room and one in my bedroom even though the rooms were adjacent to each other and I lived by myself. Sometimes I would turn them both on if I was moving from room to room. I did not bring my televisions when I moved in with mr. strivingcynic. We have one tv and our bedroom is on another floor.

7. I had the same elbow dislocated twice when I was a child. You know that trick where someone will swing a kid around by his or her arms? Apparently that’s how it happened the first time (too young to remember). I wince and rub my elbow every time I see someone doing that. I am fairly certain it was my left elbow because that’s the one that feels “funny” as I remember it. But, I’m not sure.

8. I’m not really sure what my favorite color is so I’ll usually say blue. Which I like. I’m just not sure if I like it more than the other colors out there.

9. Blue may be my “favorite” color but I like the way I look in red and in black and white.
[My preference for black and white has nothing to do with cat selection though...it just worked out that way]

strivingcynic cat is black and white (he's freaky because he's mid-roll)

strivingcynic cat's big sister was more white than black

10. I get much more angry than appropriate when I find that a cake, cookie, bread (or heaven help me, bagel), or cereal has raisins in it. I’m okay with raisins on their own…but I find them almost offensive when they’re in things!

That’s all for now! I’m sure I’ll be posting more from time to time!

Feel free to comment on my randomness or add one of your own.

numbers rule

A few months ago I posted about how I’d had a weird WordPress stats experience where one day I inexplicably had hundreds of views that were not the result of searches or clicking a referral link from anywhere (I’ve linked to this before, but in case you missed it, here it is. I came to the conclusion that I had to write off most of the 332 alleged views to some sort of bug in the system.

One thing that bummed me out about the “ghost views” was that maybe the week before, I had said something to mr. strivingcynic to the effect of “Gee, it would be cool if I had 5,000 views on the blog by the end of the year.” So my first reaction to 332 views considering I still think 20 is a pretty good day was “Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!” but once I realized that they probably weren’t real (okay, I think 10 may have been real)….well, the number in my head jumped to 5,332.

By mid December, I had reached 5,000. I was excited, or rather, I said I was excited, but I was not-so-secretly (mr. sc knows my thought patterns too well) thinking that it wasn’t really 5,000. So, I was much more excited as December was coming to an end and 5,332 was reached. The weight lifted and I could enjoy my views.

goal plus!

So, I shot this when I woke up New Year’s Day and there were two views from that day already, so the tally for views by the end of 2011 is actually 5,395. Minus 332 is…………above 5,000 (okay, it’s 5,063)!

Of course, why I care so much is another issue!

[I mentioned in earlier this week, that this year, I'm hoping to have 200 posts (up from about 145). I haven't set my "wouldn't it be nice if I got x in 2012 number" yet....but I guess I think it would be nice if it were more than 5,000!]

Do you “care” about views? Do you set numbers goals for your blog?

two tales of a kitty

Today is a special day because I’m going to tell two strivingcynic cat stories in one post! In fact, we’ll say one sc cat story and one story for his alter ego, T Swoop! Just to make it easy, the sc cat story will be in words, and the T Swoop story will be interspersed in the pictures (and captions).

The story of how T Swoop still loves my birthday present bag (which we got in October)

So,one night a few weeks age, mr. strivingcynic, strivingcynic teen, and I were hanging out in our living room watching tv. Now, the layout of our house is such that basically as soon as you walk in, you’re in our living room. There is a tiny floor area one could call an entry way, but it’s pretty much all living room.  A few feet away, on the same wall as the door is a window with a big windowsill that sc cat likes to sit in and watch the world go by.

From November 16 post, T Swoop hanging out on "his" bag

On this particular evening, sc cat seemed a bit agitated. He kept going over to the window and the door and crying. He even stood up by the door and made pawing motions, like he wanted to open the door. I started getting worried about why he was suddenly interested in the big world outside the door. Did he want to go out (he’s an indoor cat)? Was I now going to have to battle him every time I went in and out of the door? (A cute door story about sc cat. When I lived in my apartment, when I would get ready to leave for work, he’d run ahead of me as I was heading to the door and would flop over and “ask” to be pet before I could leave.)

from last week. Guess why the bag isn't flat?!

Another possibility was that there was an animal out there that interested him….a bird, a bunny, a squirrel, another cat. I looked out the window, but didn’t see anything. I got fearful that maybe there was a lost cat or kitten out there and opened the door not sure what I would do if I found one, but it was cold and dark, and again, I didn’t see anything.

the (glow-eyed) answer is staring you in the face....

The next morning, I headed out the door at 6:30 in the morning and in the daylight, all was explained. By our porch and almost under a bush, our mail carrier had placed the latest shipment of sc kitty’s Whiskas autodelivery. Sc cat must have smelled the Whiskas! We were amazed at his power of smell and relieved to find out that that was the source of all the agitation. Needless to say, the cold Whiskas was immediately brought into the house where it and sc kitty could get better acquainted!

that's right! It's T Swoop in the bag!

The end!

thanks for spoiling my fun, mom. I'm gonna play somewhere else!

I don’t even know what sort of question to follow this up with, so feel free to comment on the cat, the format, or whatever you feel like!

top ten books I’m excited to read in 2012

It’s top ten time. Thanks again to The Broke and the Bookish folks for setting this up.

Before embarking on this post…I went around my house to see how many books are on my “to be read” pile (supposedly I’m not allowing myself to bring in other books until I read these books…but it doesn’t happen), and the grand total is 79! I have my work cut out for me in 2012.

1. I don’t know if I’ll get to these in 2012 since there are so many in the queue, but I’ll mention the books I got for Christmas/Hanukkah that I mentioned in my top ten books I want santa to bring” post. Of the books on my wish list, I got Organize Now! A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life! by Jennifer Ford Berry; V is for Vengeance, by Sue Grafton; Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling; A Christmas Homecoming, by Anne Perry; and Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home, by Susan Hill (and even though I’m not supposed to bring in other books, I reserve the right to use Amazon gift cards for the others). I have been using the Organize Now! book and am hopeful that I’ll get through most of it as I attempt to….well, get organized, in 2012.

Moving on.

2. The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson. I had mixed feelings about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when I was reading it, but I saw the movie last week (really good, really disturbing) and it reinvigorated my interest in knowing what happened next, so this may be my first fiction read for 2012.

3. Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner. I currently have this and Weiner’s Then Came You on my shelves. I will not stand a Jennifer Weiner backlog, so I must read Fly Away Home.

4. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights, by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins. I asked for and got this book last Christmas, thinking it looked interesting and fun. In 2012 I’d like to find out why!

5. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. I suspect I’ll end up seeing the movie before reading the book, but I would like to finally tackle this one.

6. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley. I bought this along with its follow up The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, because I remembered hearing rave reviews about the books and their young heroine, Flavia de Luce. I acquired this relatively recently (in August in England), but would like to get to it sometime this year.

7. Fashion for Dummies, by Jill Martin and Pierre A. Lehu. Agh. Another one I got a while back. I’m always looking for fashion/beauty advice that’s easy to follow…so assuming the advice in this book isn’t out of date, I think it’s time I finally got around to it!

8. Books, by Larry McMurtry. A birthday present from mr. strivingcynic. Not this past birthday. The one before. Since I always enjoy reading about books and reading, this one is a must for 2012.

9. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella. I got this at a library book sale last year. Since I also have the latest Shopaholic book (Mini Shopaholic) on my to read pile and don’t want a Kinsella backlog either, I’d like to read this in the near future. I’m a little curious because I got What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, which sounds similar in plot…so hopefully by the time I read the latter, I’ll remember enough to be able to compare.

10. The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt.  This looks like just the thing when I want to sink my teeth into a long–and probably complicated–mystery. I’ve almost grabbed this one a few times over the last few months, so I think its time has come.

Have you read any of the books on my list? What books are you hoping to read in 2012? If you have a top ten list, feel free to link!

…and, now it’s 2012

First, it feels weird to know I can’t used the postaweek2011 tag for this post (or can I since I referred to it?).

Although I don’t always make resolutions, I felt that I needed some for 2012 since there’s some stuff I don’t seem to be getting done otherwise. My experience with my countdown goals in 2011 showed me that I can be good about following through…at least sometimes. And I’m also realizing that just like everyone says, having a plan helps (it is funny how I can ignore certain pieces of advice like “don’t just make up in the air goals with no plan to back it up” expecting that I’ll be fine…apparently it doesn’t work that way).

I thought about it, and although I have a number of goals, I decided to select five to write about on the blog for 2012. And yes, they’re in my countdown form. I’m doing this for several reasons. First, I don’t necessarily want to do monthly goals every month…if I do, fine. If I don’t, I’m still (hopefully) working on the others. Second, seeing how some goals made it on the list for each month I had goals, I think it would save me from repeating myself by just setting them up at the beginning of the year.

And here they are

In 2012, I’d like to be able to run 10 miles (or 2 times 5 miles). I started 2011 at 2.5 to 3 miles and am now up to 7.5, so I think this is doable if I’m able to keep my schedule.

In 2012, I’d like to write 200 posts (which would average out to almost 4 a week–giving myself a little break with travel or things that happen that might pull me away). I seem to have found a groove with 4 a week this last month (although sometimes it’s challenging). I had 132 posts in 2011, so we’ll see if I can pull this one off.

and yes, that does mean more pictures of strivingcynic cat!

I did indeed get the Organize Now!  book I mentioned in my “books I want Santa to bring” post. The book is broken down into 56 chapters with the idea that you’ll do one a week. Not every chapter applies to me, so I’ve decided that in 2012 I’d like to get through 3 chapters a month in my quest to be more organized.

I actually managed to get two more books read by the end of 2011, bringing my total up to 25. I discovered last year that I was good about reading books when I set book reading as a goal. So, now it’s a goal for the year. In 2012 I’d like to read at least 25 books again (so mostly 2 books a month).

One thing that I’ve put in monthly goals and failed on is taking better care of my hands (they get chapped/cracked in the winter and I wash/sanitize them to death) and they start to hurt/flake/peel. So in 2012, I want to use hand cream on them at least 1 time each day and will do “higher” maintenance (nail clipping/filing/buffing…maybe even a manicure one of these days) twice a month (so 1 time every other week). Sadly enough, this would be more than what I do for them now!

I’m not sure how often I’ll do checking in posts on these. For now I’ll say quarterly and if I decide to do it more often (I don’t think it should be less…), then I will!

Other areas that may pop up as goals through the year would involve doing more cooking and getting back into my knitting (other things I wasn’t as successful with in 2011).  I can see that a big challenge with these goals (particularly 4-2 will be making and finding time [perhaps this will help me keep off the iPhone a bit too...)].

Happy 2012!  Feel free to tell me about how organized you are, that you’re a  running, blog posting, or book reading machine, or that you’re a hand model…anything to help inspire me (or make me feel better…)!